Hello, hello! Same introduction as last time I suppose: this is a meme from The Broke and the Bookish and, since there’s four of us here, we’re going to do our top fives. Perhaps we should call it Top Twenty Tuesday? In any case, enjoy!
Yash’s Top Five
Hmm. I haven’t read all that many series, and I tend not to like sequels, but I’ll do the best I can.
I just finished reading this beauty of a book, and I know it is a rare thing. It is a sequel that doesn’t blow. In fact, The Dream Thieves is so much better than that- it is a sequel that sparkles triumphantly in a sea of sucky sequels. Okay, maybe that was a bit much. Still, the fact of the matter remains that Stiefvater knows how to write character development, especially so if the characters are male. It’s just amazing to behold and the plot is simply exhilarating.
The odd thing about this choice is that when I had read it as a teen, I didn’t really like it all that much. But a recent re-reading of the series confirmed my suspicions: past!Yash was a fool. A damned fool. The Arctic Incident was the turning point, the exact book where Artemis Fowl stopped being a chip off the unfeeling alien Sherlock-ian block and came into his own as a proper complex human being with a heart as well as a brain. (I just really dislike the jerk genius trope.)
I know, I know, a bit of an unpopular choice here, but I genuinely enjoyed Catching Fire (ha). I suppose it could be argued that the only purpose it served was to shift Katniss’ character from being a reactive victim to becoming an active agent, but to me it was so much more. I am biding my time until I can write an essay on Cinna and how he is the ultimate example for the importance of art in a bleak future.
Does it count as a sequel if it’s been published first? All I know is that Skellig takes place after My Name is Mina– so that’s that. I haven’t read a book like this in … well, ever. It’s a story that walks a fine line between fantasy and magic realism and never once does it trip up. It’s quite a unique little book and definitely a strong sequel.
I suppose this is more of a companion piece than a sequel, but I enjoyed reading Up and Down almost as much as, if not more than, Lost and Found. I meant to mail a copy to my youngest cousin over a month ago, but I can’t actually bring myself to part with it …
Nafiza’s Top Five
I read a lot of series. Sometimes I don’t even realize I am reading series until a year later I come across a sequel and then a light bulb goes on over my head. Here are some of the books I thought were fantastic sequels!
Days of Blood and Starlight is the sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone (which has one of the most amazing book trailers ever). Now DoSaB was interesting but rather too mushy and concerned with romance for my taste. So even though I quite like Taylor’s lyrical writing style, I wasn’t too keen on the story itself. However, I got DoBaS (the second one) for review and I decided to take the plunge. I’m glad I did because it was amazing. The worldbuilding was kicked up a notch, the characters develop in exciting ways and the potential for awesome is met on several levels.
The Exiled Queen is the second in the Seven Realms quartet and while I did like the first one, The Demon King, I found it to be rather slow in terms of pace. The Exiled Queen takes all the building up that had occurred in the first book and just runs with it. It’s fast and furious. Chima subverts various traditional YA romance tropes (yay!) and her worldbuilding is fantastic. Harry Potteresque but with an edge that Harry Potter just didn’t have (more because we meet him so young). I have books 3 and 4 on my shelves waiting to be devoured!
The Ruby Red trilogy was originally written in German and was translated to English by Anthea Bell. I liked the first one a lot so I had a lot of expectations for this one and it lived up to all of them. The trilogy is lighthearted and fast paced. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and since it’s motive is to entertain, it succeeds. I chuckled a lot while reading this so if you need a lighthearted read (or three) this is the one for you.
The cover of this always leaves me a little breathless. It’s just so beautiful. Anyway, Eona is the sequel to Eon, a duology by the same name. The first book was amazing but the second one is just brilliant. Eona is so flawed and her actions while well intended are always problematic. The writing is rich and colourful. the worldbuilding amazing. Goodman manages to avoid all cases of appropriation by creating a world that borrows some elements of different Asian cultures but is, by itself, wholly original. I loved everything about this and it lends itself to multiple rereadings which is always brilliant.
This series does two awesome things: present a readable likable male protagonist in a series meant for middle grade readers though teens will enjoy it too. And two, it manages to do all of that in a well written, well paced package. The Runaway King is the follow up to the 2013 The False King which was pretty awesome itself. I liked how the sequel manages to be consistent with the main character’s tone while at the same time showing him to be developing both as a person and a monarch.
Janet’s Top Five
What can I say? Yes, Lirael is depressed and lonely for most of the book, but how could I not love a character who loves the Library? Who goes exploring on her own? Who saves – without anyone ever realizing it – countless numbers of fellow librarians? Who unlocks advanced magics? And how could I resist the Disreputable Dog – “or disreputable bitch, if you want to get technical”?
Sequel, prequel… whatever. I loved Brian Jacques’s Redwall series, and Mossflower was (I believe) the second one published, although it takes place an unnamed number of seasons before Redwall does. (It is possible that Mattimeo came out before Mossflower did, so I encourage you to read them both!) Mice, squirrels, otters, badgers, moles and other woodland creatures seek to overthrow a feudal tyrant.
Whereas Dealing With Dragons focused almost exclusively on Cimorene, Searching for Dragons introduces Mendanbar, king of the Enchanted Forest, as the focalizing character. As before, the dastardly wizards are up to no good, and this time their plots involve more than one realm. When Kazul, king of the dragons, doesn’t return from a visit to her grandchildren, Kazul’s princess (officially, her Chief Cook and Librarian), Cimorene decides to search for her. Neither Cimorene nor Mendanbar are “proper” royalty, so the fact that they *spoiler alert* fall in love isn’t really a surprise. Neverthelesss, the humour is amusing and the Enchanted Forest is a delight. Just don’t stray off the path…
If you haven’t read Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief, do so at once. Then read The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, and A Conspiracy of Kings. These books contain the most intricately plotted stories, deepest development of characters, and most wholly believeable world-building that I have read in the past five years, very probably ever. Darker and more concerned with international politics & economics than The Thief, characters and world unfold and grow in depth as the stakes rise.The Queen of Attolia is not a sequel to miss.
Steph’s Top Five
Janet! You stole Mossflower! I was totally going list that! Honestly folks, Mossflower is probably the best Redwall book. It’s awesome. Read it.
OK! Down to business! I had a difficult time coming up with book sequels as well. But this is what I’ve got:
This series is awesome all the way through. While I have to say that The Ask and the Answer is the most difficult to read (in terms of content) the characters pull you through into Monsters of Men. Does book three count as a sequel? Because I really enjoyed Monsters of Men and thought it was a wonderful (well, in the dystopian sense) end to the series.
This is the sequel to Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, which I absolutely think is one of the best dystopias I’ve read in a long time (and I read a lot of them). This is the second of the ‘Moon Crush’ series and it doesn’t disappoint. It follows New York resident Alex Morales through the events of the ‘Moon Crush’ and just like Life as We Knew It we see dystopia unfold, the social system crumbles, humanity reaches new lows and our protagonist struggles to survive in a cowardly new world, without technology. I must admit here, that this book is a ‘companion’ is does not actually feature Miranda and her family, and in this way, it is also a stand alone novel and not necessarily a ‘sequel’. What can I say? Sequels are just not that awesome most of the time.
Yep, I’m going there.
I really and truly think that The Empire Strikes Back got the ‘sequel’ thing down pat. YA is rife with the ‘hero’s journey’. It’s practically in every book I read of late. And, a necessary part of the heroes journey is all the stuff we hate to read about: denials, challenges and temptations, questioning identity (over and over and over again), figuring out priorities and goals and, of course, who the protagonist really loves. This particular leg of the hero’s journey is really engaging in The Empire Strikes Back. Luke Skywalker’s challenges, companions and, well, his world and backstory are just so gripping! The lesson to you YA writers out there? Watch Star Wars again!
Ok, I know, a dystopia sequel? Steph, didn’t you just talk about how they are usually crummy?
Well, this one beat out Moira Young’s Rebel Heart because it was less annoying. The characters are the ones we already know and enjoy following, and though they are not the most creative, they are generally believable. What really sold me on this one was the intricacy and pace of the plot. Really well done. The books moves at breakneck speed, but Marie’s writing still managed to draw me in. The dialogue, romance, deaths and action were well orchestrated, and dare I say, because of this the sequel is… better than Legend? This is how a sequel should be, just jump right in. We already know the characters, we don’t need to dwell on their inner blah blah blah too much because we already know it, get on with it, the world still turns even if all the characters want to do is mope! So, I enjoyed this. Kudos to Lu.